“Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They are what make the instrumental stretch – what make you go beyond the norm.”

Since February, I have been training for Reach The Beach Relay, a 200 mile course that goes from the mountains to the beach in just 24 hours. I knew it would take my team more than 24 hours since that would mean running around 7:15 min/miles which is less than my 5K race pace but I was excited to test my limits. With no real desire to run a marathon, I figured this would be one of the hardest races to compete in without giving up my social life to train. I was right.

The first day, we decorated our van which meant, before the race even started, most of our drawings had run as a result of the condensation. Each team may have up to 12 runners and they are divided into two vans. My van was made up of runners 1-6, Gretchen, Jess, Melissa, Patricia, Bridget and myself.

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Our team of bloggers was sponsored by New Balance so we had some of the best kick ass matching outfits.Van two consisted of our captain Tina, Monica, Theodora, Elizabeth, Anne and Ashley.

Photo May 18, 9 03 38 AM  Reach The Beach 015

In February we gave Tina a list of which legs we would like to run. I wanted to challenge myself so I selected runner #6 which consisted of a 6.5, 3.0 and 6.7 mile legs.  Totaling around 16.65 miles. About a week before the race, we noticed the legs had changed! My middle leg was now 4.0 miles. While it was only one mile, I psyched myself out a little. Some other members of our team had a jump of an extra 4 miles. With a few switches in van 1, we were all satisfied with our distances.

Note to future RTB Relay runners, check the legs regularly to see if they have changed! Securing transition areas may be a challenge and you want to make sure your runners are confident.

Gretchen was runner #1 and started off with a hard 3 miles straight up Mount Wachusett.

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We also had a videographer embedded with us the entire race courtesy of RTB. Jack was great and caught almost everything. It was almost 3 PM on Friday by the time my first leg began. It was a nice little jog through Worcester on lots of main streets. About 50% was uphill, and 50% was downhill.

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I passed 3 people on my run! Success. I also got passed by 2 people. Bummer sort of… We started at 10:20 AM. Other teams started as late as 4 PM or early 7 AM. Depending on how fast you were predicted to finish dictated when you started.

When you are asked how fast your half marathon pace is when registering, I would suggest overestimating your time! This way, you will not be the last to arrive at the beer and food tent!

We probably should have started earlier, but it was comforting to know I was should have been passed. My team van stopped twice along the route to cheer and provide me with some water. I hate stopping and don’t usually drink water on my runs but I took advantage and had a few swigs and kept on going. I completed my first leg in less than hour which was actually 6.9 miles (not 6.5). I handed the timing chip slap bracelet to Tina and she was off.

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I felt great when I finished. I was nervous it went too well and I would pay for it on the last leg (and I did). I was told to make sure you stretch afterwards so I got in a little hamstring and glute action. I took a picture for my sister who graduated from Assumption College, where I finished my first leg, and headed back to the van.

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Once everyone in van #1 has run their first leg and the timing chip has been handed off to the 7th runner, van #1 has some time until they start their second leg. We were hungry so we sat down and ate an early dinner. Afterwards we went to Wegmans in Northboro. This was my first visit to the famous superstore and I was given a 30 minute limit to peruse the aisles. I could have spent 5 hours in that place and already I can’t wait to go back. We picked up a few snacks, like The Laughing Cow Mini Babybels for protein, trail mix from the most amazing trail mix bar ever for energy, and fruit to aid in our hydration.

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We met up to exchange gear with Van 2 for the start of the night time legs. It was mandatory that we wear headlamps, vests and 2 blinking lights. Elizabeth modeled her hot outfit for me before she began her leg.

Photo May 18, 6 24 46 PM

I didn’t realize this until last week, but leg #2 and #3 actually got to run through my hometown! We passed my high school and I made Jack get out with me for an impromptu photo and interview. It was fun being back, but hilarious that on a Friday night at 11 pm the town was so dead. I’m so happy I live in a city. Photo May 18, 10 36 13 PM

My second leg began at 12:30 pm. I was awake and felt good. It was freezing though at first. Luckily, there was a runner about 50-100 yards ahead of me the entire time. I just tried to keep up with her and ended up running my 4 miles in about 32 minutes. When I finished I felt nauseous. It was not a good feeling. I didn’t have time to stretch and I quickly regretted the decision as we started driving.

At 2:15 AM, we arrived at Oliver Ames High School which is where we would be sleeping until our next legs began. I slept in between the first and second row of our van on the floor. It was cold and uncomfortable but I managed to get about 2.5-3 hours of sleep. When I woke up, I felt still felt sick. Mainly due to the lack of sleep, I’m a needy girl and like my 8 hours. I was so thankful I was not running at 6 AM. By the time my leg came around, I found out we were the 168th team to arrive at the check point which meant less than 10 teams were still behind us! My last leg kicked off around 11 AM. I was not ready or feeling it. I wanted it to be over before it began.

Our van had been following each runner every few miles or so throughout the course. Around mile 2, I wanted water and didn’t see my van. I had 3 crazy hard hills and started to wheeze, I blame this on my competitive spirit and not wanted to stop or slow down. I texted my van to see where they were at mile 4. They had a slight issue and had to take a mini detour so when I finally spotted them, a few tears started to roll. This is what happens when you get no sleep, psych yourself out that you can’t run 17.65 miles in 24 hours and want to cry. Jack didn’t bring out his camera for the drama thank god. After I got some water in my system, I started to run again and passed 2 other runners walking up the damn hills. I tried to cheer them on but we all knew each other felt like crap and this last leg was hard. The hot weather didn’t help either! I finished a little over an hour and was done!

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We drove to the finish and waited for the rest of our teammates to complete their final legs. We had about 6 hours to kill before Ashley was due. I almost cried again when we all crossed the finish line. The race wasn’t about winning, it was about completing the task we set out to do and we did it! We bonded and danced to Call Me Maybe a lot! I had so much fun and would do it again in a heart beat. At the end, we enjoyed burrito bowls from Boloco and beer from Red Hook.

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7 Learning Points

1. I am a huge baby. I thought I was tired and felt crummy so my last leg was uninspired. I can’t believe I had a mini panic attack because I didn’t see my team for 4 miles. This is something that I never knew about myself (although my friends might tell you otherwise). Personally, I’m really happy I finished but wish I had left the Sarah-drama at home.I’m going to think twice before I open my mouth to complain. I know we all felt the same way, but I was the only loser to vocalize it. No one likes complainers and I’m going to try not to be one anymore. 

2. Just because it says 80 and sunny doesn’t mean, it’s going to be 80 and sunny at 3 AM. BRING WARMER CLOTHES THAN YOU THINK!

3. The last leg is the hardest. I thought having a short leg in the night would be good but to be honest, that last leg was the pits.

4. Good music and dancing goes a long way when it comes to increasing energy for a race.

5. Stretch after your legs! If you don’t have much time, try to do it at the next hand off. This is so important.

6. If you don’t want to run a marathon but are bored by halves, try a relay race!

7. Having a driver for our van might have been one of the best luxuries you could have. Pay a friend who isn’t a runner to help out with the driving if you do run a relay race. They were invaluable with helping us stay energetic and motivated.

I took a ton of video and would write a better post if I wasn’t working on it already. I’m excited to share it with you guys later this week! For now, I’m resting my legs. I have never had such sore quads in my life!

I am a Huge Baby – Reach The Beach Relay Race Recap

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  • AmyC

    That looks so fun. I’m looking forward to adventure during RTBNH. Would love to get more tips on how to make the best of it.


  • Whitney @ Whit Likes Fit

    I am loving seeing all the reach the beach recaps. I live in Portland and we have Hood to Coast (200 miles relay race) which I’m running in August for my 5th time. I didn’t know other places did races like this but it’s kind of getting me pumped for my turn. The 1st time I ran HTC I was a mess. Crying at my last leg, not really bonding with my team. I didn’t think I’d ever do it again but I did it again the next year on my eventual husband’s team and loved it. Once you’ve done a race like that once you become a total pro and things are so much easier. I actually captained a team 2 years ago.

  • Julia

    I didn’t know you’re from Holliston! I’ve followed your videos for a couple of years now, but I hardly ever hear about people from my hometown!! I graduated HHS in 2010, and I definitely don’t miss the dead weekends! Congrats on the race!

    • Sarah

      Yes! I am an HHS 2002 graduate 🙂 I was on the soccer and track team and still try to check in and see how they are doing. I may still hold one of the records for the 4x400 outdoor relay team. 🙂

  • Katie @ Katie Moves

    This sounds like such a good time..i would definitely like this style race better than a half cause i’m not that crazy about just running haha! that’s just me tho 🙂 good job- i think we all learn something about ourselves through races/competitions

  • Scott

    Great job! I’m also from Holliston (a year older than your brother) and was in van 1 for RTB. It was so much fun driving through Holliston -- there were two little league games in progress at the middle school when my team arrived there.

    As for stretching after (and before) runs, and during “off” times for the van, we brought a few Sticks and a couple foam rollers -- advice that was given to us from some veteran runners. These helped a lot.

    Great job…now when’s the next relay?!

  • Cara

    OMG -- you ran right by my house! I live on Salisbury, just a few houses before you would have gotten to Assumption. I was wondering why the heck there were racers going by when I was backing out last Friday afternoon! If I had known I would have come to cheer you on!

    • Sarah

      I didn’t realize we ran through my own town! I wish we had known! I ran for awhile down the street Assumption is on and took a left into their parking lot. No worries though because we had no idea what time we would be there. NEXT year!

  • Jessica LeBoeuf

    Great job sarah!! It’s great you learned a lot about yourself, it’ll make you so much better for next year. I love how descriptive you are on all of your posts. It makes me fully understand and comprehend what you choose to talk about. Anyways, sounded like you had a great time. I do running races and triathlons and now I’m thinking I may try this kind of race. I love team efforts.

    Love the blog,


  • Meg

    Yay congrats! If it makes you feel any better -- I did a night leg once where I saw no other runners, no people, NOTHING for about 8 miles. I was so angry when I got back -- someone from the relay said I must have passed volunteers because they were all over the course with spot lights (think I would have noticed that in pitch black) I ripped that person a new one which is not me and it wasn’t that person’s fault. I felt so bad afterwards -- blame the sleep deprivation! 😉

  • Emmah

    You have clearly come a long way in your running. I’ve heard you talk about running 10-minute miles for long runs, which is where I have been sitting for a year in a half in general.What did you do besides just “stepping up to the plate” in your training? Thanks!

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